BAFTA Craft Masterclass: Why Don’t More Women Write for TV?

In addition to our monthly meetings, GAP Salon members are often out and about at other events related to gender equality and representation. On Friday, 17 January, 2014, Amy Clare Tasker was at the Institut Francais for their BAFTA Craft Masterclass: Why Don’t More Women Write for TV. Here are some highlights.

Panel: Paula Milne, Virginie Brac, Emma Reeves
Moderated by: Amy Raphael

Paula Milne has been doing panels like this one for 20 years. We should progress this argument now. It’s not the right question to ask, “Why are there no women writers?” They are here. The question now is, “How do women engage with this industry, as writers, as directors, as actors? And how is the industry skewed towards men?”

Virginie Brac noted that in France, there are a few women writers, but virtually no women directors. It’s partially an issue of confidence: women writers and directors are not trusted [by those in hiring positions]. Executives do not have confidence that a woman can do the job as well as a man [who likely has more experience].

Paula Milne: I never write treatments. I go in and pitch in person, because I know what they really want is to think, “oh good, she knows what’s she’s doing; we don’t need to worry about her.” If you don’t have confidence in your work, they won’t have confidence in you. It’s all about trust in those relationships.

Paula Milne: Women write male characters differently; we write them as we see them.

Virginie Brac: I write male characters as I would like men to be. I feel more comfortable with female characters.

Virginie Brac: [regarding working with patronising older men] There comes a point when you can’t teach them life, you can’t give them your world view. If you can choose your collaborators, don’t work with them again.

Emma Reeves: Quite often, you don’t get to choose your collaborators. But as you progress in your career, you do get more control, as you gain trust.

Paula Milne: If you want total control, write a novel.

Paula Milne: Female directors have a big problem trying to have a family, since so much of the work involves long periods of travel.

Paula Milne: I don’t do lunches. Writing takes at least 5 hours of uninterrupted work time.

Paula Milne: You have to defend your talent as if it were a friend you don’t want to let down.

Prevailing advice from all three panelists: KEEP GOING.

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